Research

In vitro growth conditions change malaria parasites

These are the boring and unloved results that no scientific journal likes to publish, yet are very important. Nearly all biological and immunological studies use pathogens that are artificially grown in incubators.

Petri dishes for the cultivation of malaria parasites (Photography: NeoLab catalogue).
Petri dishes for the cultivation of malaria parasites (Photography: NeoLab catalogue).

The culture conditions under which each pathogen survives and multiplies best in the test tube have been explored at some point. Subsequently, it is rarely studied how the artificial conditions influence other pathogen properties. Malaria parasites are cultured in red blood cells suspended in growth media. We now find that simply replacing human serum by a frequently-used serum-like mixture significantly altered relevant properties of the parasites. These results should remind researchers to repeatedly check whether laboratory conditions still reflect real life.

 


Tilly A.K. et al., Sci Rep. 2015, 5:16766

Ann-Kathrin Tilly, Jenny Thiede, Nahla Metwally, Pedro Lubiana, Anna Bachmann, Stephan Lorenzen, Egbert Tannich, Iris Bruchhaus and external co-operation partners (see publication)